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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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New York City Ballet - Jewels

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 6, 2004
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023

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New York City Ballet - Jewels


Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Andrea Quinn
Manager, Press Relations, Siobhan Burns

Conductor, Andrea Quinn

New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

(See Other NYC Ballet Reviews)

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 6, 2004

Jewels (1967):Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Peter Harvey, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley. Balanchine was inspired by the jewelry of Claude Arpels and decided upon pieces of music that expressed the essence of each of these jewels. The NYC Ballet costume designer, Karinska, used artificial stones that exemplified each of these three jewels. Like the difference in jewels, the mood and music differ, as well. Emeralds signifies the romanticism of France. Rubies has jazzy elements that evolved from Balanchine's collaboration with Stravinsky. Diamonds is illustrative of Imperial Russia and its grandeur. Some of the 1967 Premiere featured performers were Suki Schorer ( See SAB Tour), Patricia McBride, Edward Villella, Suzanne Farrell, and Jacques D'Amboise. (NYCB Notes).

When I was a child, I had a jewel box with a tiny ballet dancer that twirled, when the music was wound with a key. I remember dreaming that the ballerina came to life and wore some of my tiny necklaces, pins, and bracelets. Tonight, my dream returned, but in a front orchestra seat at NY State Theater, with Andrea Quinn, another superb performer, leading the twirling ballerinas, bedecked in emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, even a sapphire or pearl, here and there, as they wove a choreographic vision of human bracelets, necklaces, and precious solitaires, beneath and within the amazing new sets of the scenic artist, Peter Harvey, who designed the original sets in 1967. Karinska's costumes have not lost their luster in almost 40 years, and in each dance the greens, reds, and whites were glistening with jewels, lace, velvet, and ribbons.

Emeralds: Music by Gabriel Fauré, from Pélléas et Mélisande and Shylock, performed by Jenifer Ringer, James Fayette, Miranda Weese, Stephen Hanna, Jennifer Tinsley, Arch Higgins, Pascale van Kipnis, the Company, and students from School of American Ballet. Human chains of emeralds and diamonds danced onstage in a fantasy of French perfume and Fragonard, in geometrically balanced choreography, with circles, pairs, trios, and solos, deep, deep, green, and very stunning crystal. From the rafters hung strands of enormous beads, shades of green, pearl white, and crystal, in uneven but unbelievable splendor. The emerald green of the mountainous backdrops, textured and spackled, enveloped the audience in shades of green, as evocative spins enhanced a lilting flute, in these Fauré works, originally composed for 19th Century plays.

Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette were well paired, ethereal, balanced, and connected. Their dancing was pure joy, and Ms. Ringer deserved the audience accolades that she later received. Miranda Weese seemed a bit too seasoned for Stephen Hanna, but they created some dramatic dynamics, as Ms. Weese is so very virtuosic and theatrical in demeanor. Jennifer Tinsley, Arch Higgins, and Pascale van Kipnis led the Company and students from School of American ballet through the sparkling sequences that painted the picture of effervescent, emerald jewels in perpetual motion.

Rubies: Music by Igor Stravinsky, Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Alexandra Ansanelli, Damian Woetzel, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company. This was the piece that brought the audience to a roar of Bravos. Stravinsky's score is wild, wanton, and whipping. Damian Woetzel and Alexandra Ansanelli should be filmed in this role, as theirs is a partnership from heaven, and their chemistry was ablaze. If Emeralds were champagne, Rubies would be fireworks. With Mr. Harvey's stark black sets, hung with fiery red streaks and prominent shapes of tiny red spots and lines, the curtain raised to extended applause, even before the virtuosic dancing had begun. Ms. Ansanelli and Mr. Woetzel were perky and playful, aerobic and airy. They fed off each other's energy and elasticity. With Picasso-like figures, they spun and leaped, hands and feet in angular positions.

Ms. Reichlen proved to be an exquisite third, never seeming upstaged, always in the correct motif, as she interwove with the ever so brilliant new Corps of men - Adam Hendrickson (a magnetic performer) and Daniel Ulbricht, along with Kyle Froman and Aaron Severini. The Company, in blazing reds that shone against the black and red-bedecked scenery, was in extraordinary form. Because of Rubies, I will experience this ballet once again next week. Experience is the operative word, as this edgy, exciting work is projected in my mind's eye. Cameron Grant kept his solos and accompaniments to the driven, delirious momentum, created by Stravinsky. Mr. Balanchine must have had Mr. Woetzel and Ms. Ansanelli in mind, when he first envisioned this whirling dervish of a work.

Diamonds: Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky from Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Performed by Maria Kowroski, Philip Neal, the Company, including Saskia Beskow (Danskin Spokesperson), and students from School of American Ballet. To complete the metaphor, with Emeralds as champagne, and Rubies as fireworks, Diamonds would be softly falling snow. This Imperial Russian work deserves, however, a better lead than Philip Neal, who has technical virtuosity, without charismatic, partnering personality or presence or poise. Maria Kowroski is an outstanding Principal, with sensational dramatics, who commands the stage. Tschaikovsky's score was reminiscent of Nutcracker, and the fanciful fantasy of glistening diamonds against the beautiful blue backdrops, with crystal lighting and tender ballerinas, was offset and disturbed by Mr. Neal's inability to match Ms. Kowroski's technique, confidence, and skills. To be fair, Mr. Neal had better timing and balance than in previous performances, but his successes were in the solos, not in the partnered passages.

The Company was evocative of Degas' dancers, as they spun and soared with white, textured costumes with grace and eloquence. Kudos to George Balanchine for this unique and uplifting ballet. Kudos to Peter Martins for returning to us this magnificent work. And, Kudos to Andrea Quinn, the NYC Ballet Orchestra, Fauré, Stravinsky, and Tschaikovsky for providing the contrasting and celebratory music for these three precious Jewels.

Emeralds from Jewels
Dancers: Jenifer Ringer and James Fayette
Choreography by George Balanchine
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Rubies from Jewels
Dancers: Alexandra Ansanelli and Damian Woetzel
Choreography by George Balanchine
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

Diamonds from Jewels
Dancers: Maria Kowroski and Philip Neal
Choreography by George Balanchine
Photo courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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